FORT THOMAS, Ky. — St. Elizabeth is working to implement its "surge plan" as Northern Kentucky counties continue to report an influx in coronavirus cases.
According to St. Elizabeth Healthcare spokesman Guy Karrick, St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas was running out of beds in its intensive care unit and was rotating patients from that facility to its Florence facility Thursday afternoon. But later Thursday, St. Elizabeth Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jim Horn told WCPO the shuffling of patients between facilities is common and not an indication of capacity concerns.
"We have specialty care that may only be provided at a certain location," Horn told WCPO anchor Kristyn Hartman. "Depending on the needs of the patient, we certainly have the ability to take care of them where they need to be taken care of, and we did take care of COVID patients in other locations."
When it came to ICU beds in Fort Thomas, Horn said he couldn't confirm the hospital's capacity.
"I don't want to comment right now because I don't have the census in front of me, but we're constantly assessing our ICU capabilities, and we can deliver ICU care, whether that's directly in the ICU or in another location," Horn said. "We have ICU capability. We have ICU beds, but those volumes are always in flux in terms of what the patients need from a care standpoint."
Horn couldn't confirm that ICU patients had been shuffled from the hospital system's Fort Thomas location to its Florence location, as Karrick previously indicated to WCPO, but he did say the system is ready for that possibility.
"We certainly, with this surge, have prepared Florence for the possibility of receiving patients. All of our ICU settings are capable of taking care of a COVID-19 patient, depending on the needs of that particular patient," Horn elaborated.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare has had the unique opportunity to dedicate its Fort Thomas facility to treating COVID-19 patients, but Horn emphasized that its coronavirus treatment is not limited to that one facility.
"While Fort Thomas is really the epicenter of us in terms of our COVID care, all of our facilities and all of our ICUs are capable of taking care of a COVID patient," Horn said.
But Horn also acknowledged that his hospitals are seeing the uptick in patients being reported by health departments and government officials.
"Five weeks ago, when we were looking at our rates of positivity, we were maybe at 5%... Just this past week, we were at 18% in our community prevalence. So you can see a pretty dramatic uptick.
"Over that same period...the number of patients being actively treated for COVID have tripled."
The Northern Kentucky Health Department reported 167 new cases and 11 deaths Wednesday, according to the agency's online dashboard.
The news comes just a day after Gov. Andy Beshear announced sweeping new restrictions on private gatherings, schools, entertainment venues, restaurants and bars and fitness facilities as the latest steps in his administration's efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
In addition to its Fort Thomas and Florence locations, St. Elizabeth Healthcare has facilities in Covington, Edgewood and Williamstown in Kentucky, and another in Lawrenceburg, Ind.